updated 01:30 pm EDT, Wed August 22, 2012
Spot check shows stock of 24-inch iMac thus far unaffected
Retailers are reporting shortages of stock on 27-inch iMac models ahead of a rumored mid-September press event supposedly revolving around next iPhone model. Checks with local Apple stores, brick-and-mortar as well as online retailers and other outlets show that third-party resellers are not able to replenish or are completely out of stock.
None of the stores contacted saw any shortage on the 24-inch iMac models, and Apple Stores in New York, Florida and San Francisco all reported existing stock on 27-inch models. Retailers like Best Buy, Futureshop and Amazon, however, said they had little or no stock at all of the larger iMac, especially the top-end model. Many independent shops reported no stock of 27-inch iMacs at all, and no assurance that they could get more.
An upgrade of the iMac (all models) to Intel's Ivy Bridge chip is inevitable, but has been oddly missing following the announcement of similar updates to Apple's portable line. There have been rumors of a Retina-quality display or a redesign for the iMac that could explain the delay, but the former possibility would be prohibitively expensive (though, like the Retina MacBook Pro, Apple may opt to offer it as a premium option), and the latter speculation lacks any supporting evidence.
An iMac sporting Ivy Bridge processors is referred to in internal files inside OS X Mountain Lion, along with a future Mac Pro. The line is historically "overdue" for a refresh, having last been upgraded in early May of last year -- over 200 days beyond it's typical 270-day refresh average.
The next iMac, whenever it finally appears, is likely to drop the optical drive, another hint discovered by researchers poring over Mountain Lion's minutia. Apple has said before that it intends to move beyond the superdrives in favor of streaming, downloading and uploading content. Any new model is also very likely to use faster RAM to complement the improved processor, include Bluetooth 4.0 and may switch to using at least some flash storage drives as default options, leaving the larger traditional hard drives for advanced users.